Sometimes what you put out, you really do get back. (All photos courtesty WFAA)
For the last 12 years, Elizabeth Laird has been a constant at the airport in Fort Hood, TX with the sole purpose of hugging our troops. The 83-year-old, who is affectionately referred to as the “Hug Lady,” made it her duty to embrace each and every service member who was either leaving for combat or returning home from deployment since the war began in 2003. It’s been estimated that she has hugged nearly 500,000 troops.
However, Elizabeth hasn’t been at the airport for the last few weeks—because her 10-year battle with breast cancer landed her in Metroplex Hospital located in Killeen, TX.
Once the service members learned of Elizabeth’s condition, they did what they do best: honor and protect those they love. Not only did these men and women donate the majority of the funds—more than $93,000— to her GoFundMe campaign (which is raising money for Elizabeth’s growing medical expenses), but they also lined up in the hospital to hug their dear friend back to health.
Hugging isn’t just a warm gesture. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University concluded that the more frequently someone is hugged, the more likely they will be protected from the increased risk of infection due to the effects from an illness, as well as psychological stress.
And the hugging seems to be working. Elizabeth was released from the hospital on November 20 and has moved into an assisted living facility. She has just one goal—to go back to work at the airport. According to her son, Richard Dewees, “Elizabeth knows that her Lord has given her this mission, to give smiles, hugs and love to all of her troops.”
As reported by the Good News Network, Elizabeth told one of her visitors, “Got flights coming up. Got to get out and hug you.”
The take-home lesson: Never underestimate the power of a hug.
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